Even though the holidays are without a doubt my most absolute favorite time of year, I also find them to be completely overwhelming.
Do you remember in the movie National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, when a teenage Juliette Lewis is complaining to her mother about having to share a bed with her little brother, because – surprise! – they’ve invited far too many relatives for Christmas and there just wasn’t enough space for everyone?
And then her mom just sort of stares at her with an indifferent expression and states: “Well, I don’t know what to say, other than it’s Christmas and we’re all in misery.”
The cooking, the cleaning, the gift-buying, the incessant pressure to engage in TOGETHERNESS and JOY. It’s just…a lot.
And trust me, I know the true meaning of Christmas isn’t about all the gifts and glitz and blah blah blah. Go ahead and add that sentiment to the list of Additional Holiday Stressors That Also Make Me Feel Extreme Guilt and Shame.
Judging by the sheer number of “Reduce Holiday Stress” articles that are flooding the interwebs at the moment, I get the feeling I’m not alone.
But if I could take a moment to be selfish and complain for just one or two paragraphs, you know who really gets the raw end of the deal this time of year? Food bloggers.
The holiday stress of a food blogger is even more deplorable than that of a typical consumer. Ours is a self-imposed, self-important, millennial, bottom-feeding kind of stress, as in, WHAT AM I GOING TO MAKE FOR MY WILDLY POPULAR ICE CREAM BLOG WITH TWENTY FOLLOWERS THAT’S FUN AND DIFFERENT BUT STILL CELEBRATES ALL THE FLAVORS THAT BIG FOOD TELLS ME I SHOULD BE CELEBRATING?!!
It’s probably painfully obvious by now that I take myself and my blog way too seriously most of the time, but the stress is particularly pronounced around two peak seasons:
- Summertime, because I feel like that’s supposed to be MY time, since ice cream is generally considered a summer thing, and everyone expects me to be crazy on top of my game (but I never am).
- The holidays – because it’s the perfect time to show people that ice cream can and should be enjoyed all year round. It’s my burden to bear.
Like most things in my life, the blog can sometimes become a painful exercise in over-analyzation, and this time of year is worse than most, because I’m overwhelmed with all the amazing holiday flavors at my disposal.
While drafting this first “Chistmas-y” post of the year, I’ve been paralyzed with fear – I didn’t want to make a wrong move. After all, I’ve already posted some pretty standard holiday fare, including Peppermint Mocha, Gingerbread, and Christmas Ale.
But what comes next?
For days – weeks even – I pleaded with the Internet food gods, asking them to send me a sign from above.
And then, one day, it appeared to me, like a glorious ray of sunlight on the darkest of stormy days:
I’d like to think I’ve been pretty transparent about my unrefined palate. But this takes it to a whole new level. In one of my more embarrassing admissions, I’m going to tell you that I absolutely love eggnog shakes from McDonald’s.
I mean, like, LOVE.
Want to know what’s even more shameful? I didn’t realize I loved eggnog until I had the fake McDonald’s version, in the form of a really awful milkshake.
Back in the day, when I was Lindsay Who Still Had Her Youth In Addition To A Reasonably Acceptable BMI, I’d go on eggnog shake binges during Finals week, actually dipping my fries into the shake.
(I know, I KNOW. Trust me, this isn’t an easy story to tell).
Then, as I matured, I progressed from eggnog shakes to store-bought eggnog, and went along in life, blissfully ignorant, until one day I had made-from-scratch eggnog at a friend’s house and it totally changed my life. Like most things homemade, it’s ruined me for more commercialized versions.
As I was making this ice cream, I questioned why it took me so long to get around to this flavor, since eggnog and ice cream have such similar DNA.
Truthfully, it’s really because my husband doesn’t like eggnog, much to my chagrin. I thought surely this ice cream version of eggnog would change his mind – maybe it was just the texture of typical eggnog that he loathed?
But nope, he hated it.
Even as a creamy, delicious ice cream.
Spiked with rum.
Covered in caramel.
And jam-packed with crunchy candied pecans.
He even said, and I quote: “This ice cream tastes like poop.”
So, there you have it.
Me, though? This might be one of my favorite ice creams that I’ve ever made.
I was really concerned about all the eggs in this recipe (note: there’s SEVEN of them). The base seemed pretty thick and flat when I first emptied it into the ice cream maker (and nothing makes me sadder than the thought of bad ice cream).
But lo and behold, it fluffed up into a magical dreamland of nutmeg-kissed dairy. The few tablespoons of rum kept the ice cream nice and soft as it froze (but word to the wise: this takes a really long time to freeze so plan accordingly). The homemade caramel and candied pecans really put this over the top, and helped cut through the richness of the boozy ice cream base.
I loved this so much, I might just start putting extra eggs and rum in all of my ice cream from now on. Is that excessive?
Do you like eggnog? What’s your favorite way to serve it?
Happy scooping 🙂
Eggnog Ice Cream with Candied Pecans and Salted Rum Caramel
Yield: 1 Quart
7 egg yolks
¾ cup sugar
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
Large pinch of salt
¼ tsp to ½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg, to taste (I went with ½ tsp but I really like nutmeg. A lot).
2 or 3 tablespoons of dark rum (or, to taste)
For the Candied Pecans (this recipe makes about a cup extra for snacking)
½ pound pecans
1/3 cup sugar
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
½ tsp salt
1 egg white
1 tablespoon water
For the Salted Rum Caramel
1.5 cups of sugar
1/2 cup of water
1 cup of heavy cream
2.5 tablespoons of butter (salted or unsalted…i never use unsalted anything, but if you don’t enjoy over salting everything like I do, you might want to go the unsalted route)
Large pinch of salt (or to taste)
1 tsp of good vanilla extract
1 tablespoon of dark rum (or, to taste)
- In a medium sized bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar together until all of the yolks are broken and the sugar is well incorporated.
- In a medium saucepan over medium heat, heat the milk and salt until it just begins to steam. A little at a time, pour the warmed milk mixture into the yolks, whisking constantly until all of the milk is incorporated. Pour the warmed yolks back into the saucepan, and continue cooking for ten minutes or so, until the mixture thickens into custard (if using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, the custard should stick to the back; when you wipe your finger across, there should be a clear “path” through the custard).
- Strain custard through a sieve into a bowl, and add the heavy cream, rum, and nutmeg. Stir until combined. Store in the fridge until thoroughly chilled, preferably overnight.
Make the candied pecans:
- Preheat oven to 250°.
- In a small bowl, mix sugar, cinnamon, and salt.
- In another, larger bowl, whisk the egg white with the water until thick and foamy. Add the pecans, and mix until each pecan is covered with egg white. Then add in the sugar mixture, mixing thoroughly until each pecan is coated.
- Spreah on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Bake for one hour, mixing them up every fifteen minutes so that they cook evenly.
- Remove from oven and allow to cool.
Make the Salted Rum Caramel:
- Add the sugar to a medium sized saucepan, then pour water over top; no need to mix together. Texture should be that of wet sand.
- Bring to a boil over medium high heat, and let boil until miture reaches a deep amber color and smells amazing.
- Remove from heat, and VERY CAREFULLY begin whisking in the heavy cream, just a little at a time. The cool cream will cause a ton of hot steam to rise from the boiling sugar, which can be dangerous.
- Once all the cream is incorporated, add the butter and vanilla. Then, start adding the rum and salt. I would start off slowly here with both. I only ended up adding about 1 tablsepoon of rum…but about ten thousand teaspoons of salt. Just kidding… probably two teaspoons (but I love salt).
- Let rest on the counter until cooled, then store in the fridge for up to three weeks.
Put it all together:
- Freeze the ice cream according to manufacturer’s instructions. Move to a storage container a little at a time, layering in as many pecans and as much caramel as you like between layers. Freeze overnight, then serve with extra caramel and pecans.